One of the Best Investments for Your Career

Learning a second language can be a fun way to open up the world and embrace new possibilities in travel, friendship, food, culture and a host of other cool things. Aren’t you tired of being monolingual when more and more people from around the world can speak one or more languages including English?

A Worthy Investment

Consider learning a new language as an investment, but not like your regular stocks, bonds and gold type. Were talking about an investment in yourself.  When you take the time to invest in learning another language, you’re giving yourself an extra tool to succeed and go places. You’ll never view the world in the same light once you immerse yourself in the culture of another country.


Aside from the many health benefits being bilingual can give you, such as delayed onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, knowing how to speak in another language gives you opportunities that you otherwise would never have gotten had you stayed monolingual, like getting that assignment overseas or pulling double duty as the company’s in house translator and getting paid more. If your boss is looking for the best quality French translation services, tell her you can handle it.

Be Free

But how can you learn another language without breaking the bank? Rosetta Stone and other programs cost way too much. The whole shebang to learn Spanish from Rosetta Stone will set you back hundreds of dollars!

The point is, do you really want to pay that much to learn a language when there are tons of resources online that can help you for the good old price of free?


Duolingo is an excellent resource if you want to learn most European languages for free. Choose from German, Irish, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegian, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Esperanto and Ukrainian. Google Translate is another useful and free tool at your disposal. It’s not as accurate as a native speaker and botches complicated phrases, but for the basics, it’s pretty accurate, and you’ll only need to know 20% of the words of another language to be conversational.


Watching foreign language TV shows and movies is also one way to learn a language quickly. Make sure you know most of the common words, so you’ll be able to piece sentences together faster. You can also go to TuneIn internet radio and search for foreign language radio stations. Try to read a few books in another language too, with Google Translate at the ready.

Time to Practice

Once you’ve decided on what language to learn, use all the free online courses on Duolingo and other services such as Livemocha, Foreign Service Institute and a host of others. If you feel you’ve learned enough and are ready to talk to a native speaker, do a Google search of all the restaurants in your area that serve foreign cuisine.

Go to the restaurant to verify if the owner or someone else speaks the language you want to practice. Smaller cafes, bakeries, etc have a bigger chance of the owners manning the place, so they’re your best bet. Once there, try striking a conversation in their native language. They might be surprised at first and puzzled by all your mistakes, so explain to them that you’re studying how to speak their language.

If you’re too shy to strike up a conversation because you feel you’re not that good yet, you can always go virtual and pay someone to talk to you. The website has excellent resources for you to tap into for as little as $5 for a one-on-one session with a native speaker. It sucks that you have to pay, but immersion is very important if you want to make the new language stick. You can’t talk to yourself and expect to learn anything.

The world can be your oyster when you can speak more than one language. Consider learning a new language and give yourself an upgrade. New cultures, beautiful cities, delectable food and wonderful people are waiting for you across the globe.


Stop Buying Junk to Be More Sustainable (Financially)

There’s an old saying in business that you have to spend money to make money.

Some people argue that the more you spend, the more you’re forcing yourself to look for more ways to make even more money, but that’s a little absurd. While this sounds good on paper and guarantees you’re always going to have the best stuff, it’s a recipe for stress and disaster.

Only buy what you need, when you need it

Consumerism is great for the economy, but it’s bad for your finances. Don’t be a tool and get sucked into buying a new smartphone every two years just because a new model comes out, or a new computer because the one you’re using is more than four years old.

As long as your stuff is working and serviceable, do your wallet and the environment a favor and don’t buy a new one.

No one’s going to judge you if they see you using an old iPhone or an older computer running Linux. The need to buy and use the newest toys is unfortunately, all in your head. A troubling fact is that some people even buy new stuff on credit, with absolutely no plan on how to pay it all back. This pushes them over the limit, and their lives now revolve around debt and more debt.

Take a look around and do a quick inventory of what you need and use on a daily basis. It could be as simple as:


  1. laptop
  2. smartphone
  3. coffee maker


Now, ask yourself if you really need a new phone, laptop and coffee maker when the old ones are working just fine. It’s such a waste to be living in excess, so everytime you get the urge to shop for anything new, make an assessment of what you currently have and check if it needs to be replaced. You’ll be surprised how fast the itch to buy fades away when you realize you really don’t need anything new.

A Word to the Wise

There’s another old saying that money should be spent wisely. Instead of buying a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge or iPhone 6 Plus, consider getting a mid-level phone with flagship specs from smaller phone manufacturers such as OnePlus, Asus or Xiaomi at more than half the price. Instead of buying Windows or Mac, look into free alternatives such as Ubuntu or Linux Mint.


For businesses, it’s a little more complicated, but completely doable. For small software companies, consider doing all test automation in-house instead of going to and paying for their services. In business, overextending your finances is a big risk that often leads to problems. If the project is small enough and your team can handle it, do it in-house.


Look at the Long Term

Look for long term buys or items that will last a long time before they need to be replaced. Choosing to buy a top of the line computer ensures that your rig can still run anything you throw at it after a few years. It may be more expensive now, but you’ll resist the urge to keep buying something new every few years because your old  processor becomes obsolete.


Another long term buy is a good bag. If you buy a cheap one for $50 bucks and it only lasts you a year, wouldn’t buying a branded bag worth $300 be a more worthwhile investment, especially if the quality of materials used and workmanship will make it last more than a decade? Of course it is! The same can be said with shoes and other crafted items.

Final Thoughts

The world is suffering from excess waste as it is, and never ending shopping sprees encourage us to do even more damage. The real winners here are the manufacturers, because they can make consumers fall for their marketing gimmicks easily. The losers are the people who get suckered into buying stuff they don’t need. Be content and find happiness in what you have. Your wallet and Mother Earth will thank you for it.




What to Do If You’re in Financial Trouble

Do you have difficulty managing money?

Maybe the recession didn’t help, adding a whole new dimension to the problem. Tons of people lost their jobs or faced foreclosure.

Those who aren’t necessarily financially savvy were left in the dark. Few traditional financial institutions were lending money because they had already exposed themselves to risk and new lending simply increased the risk. The basis for being approved for a loan had always been primarily based on the applicant’s credit score.

If that was low few traditional financial institutions looked any further into the application.

Worrying Figures

A recent survey commissioned by the National Foundation for Credit Counselling suggested that the problem is still extremely widespread even though consumer confidence is returning and unemployment falling.

In an ideal world people should be meeting their regular bills but also putting money away for emergencies and toward future retirement.

It seems that almost half the population is not doing so and a figure of almost 40% has credit card balance debt that they cannot pay off and it is incurring high interest every month.

Credit Cards

A new breed of lender operating exclusively online.

If you’re in financial trouble, begin by sitting down and writing down regular income and expenditure in two separate columns. Some spending issues may jump out immediately.

If this is you, you may notice a lot of your money is going to interest on those credit cards.

Every credit card company expects a minimum monthly payment but that really does not reduce the core balance.

That needs immediate attention and a consolidation loan may be your answer. Consolidation loans are available even to those with a poor credit score but you must discipline yourself to plan your financial future because you are unlikely to get a second chance if you use your credit card and build up debt once again.

The Present

Good online lenders place more importance on an applicant’s current status when looking at a loan application.

They require information that identifies you, name, address and citizenship. You will need to provide evidence of your regular income and support it with details of your bank account.

As long as it appears you are capable of making the regular repayments until the debt is settled in full you’ll be approved. If you have a poor credit score it is likely to be reflected in the interest rate you will be charged but otherwise the credit score is no impediment.

The whole process from application to your receipt of the money is likely to be within 24 hours so even if you have an emergency there is no reason to worry. It’s important to find a reputable lender because there are companies of questionable reputation.

You do not want any of your private information to be accessible to others so the company to use is one that can demonstrate its commitment to service and confidentiality.

The credit card scenario is just an illustration of the kind of problem that can develop for you if are not careful with your finances. You have to ask yourself whether you are wasting money each month.

If you are struggling to meet your regular monthly bills then unless you have ideas about extra sources of income you will have to analyze your spending and make savings. Remember that you have to think about emergencies and retirement which you may be having to ignore when you are struggling with day to day living.

Perhaps it is time you took the first step to improve your finances?